How Are You Going?

February 16, 2006 at 11:06 am (Uncategorized)

For a while, I had myself tricked into thinking that people were asking, “How are you doing?”. Then I realized that I only thought they were saying that because that is what I would expect them to say. In reality, they all ask how are you going. My first thought is that in America things ‘go’ and people ‘are’. Then, with the help of a good friend Kristine, I realized that in most other languages, if you ask ‘how are you’ it literally translates to ‘how are you going’. For example, in French you say ‘comment allez vous?’ and that literally means, ‘how are you going’. So maybe these Australians are onto something.
Yesterday was not so swell. On Wednesdays I am in the main building (Foreshore House) with Lynda working on archiving tasks. That was great last week, but this week it was really painful. She was in a meeting all morning so I was by myself in the archive library. I seriously rearranged the entire library to get things the way that she wanted it (it took me 3 hours) and when she finally got back she didn’t say a word about it. She is really unorganized and unfocused which makes getting directions from her pretty difficult. She is nice enough to me, but not as nice as the people in Merchant’s House, where my office is. Becs (the woman who watches over me when I’m there) is always making me go on ‘tea breaks’ and finding things for me to do that are at least relevant to what I want to be doing if not interesting as well. Lynda, on the other hand, is obsessed with finding things for me to do, but it’s always in the interest of what they can do to use the extra body. I realize that if I were in the States doing an internship that Lynda would probably be one of the better people to have because she is at least nice to me, but in comparison to Becs and everyone at Merchant’s House, Wednesdays with Lynda suck. And to top it off, when they finally found something for me to do it was 4:55pm and I didn’t get to leave until 5:30. The one good thing that did happen was that when I got off the elevator downstairs I almost ran over a little old lady. She was stooped over, tiny, and A NUN. I don’t think I’ve ever physically seen a nun before, so that was exciting.

The only good thing about work on a Wednesday is that there is this funny guy who works in Lynda’s department. His name is James and he just graduated from ‘Uni’. Whatever his job is (seems to just be IT stuff) he doesn’t dress up like all of the other people. He seems cool, and I get this feeling from him that tells me he might be an Australian Ethan Bennett. But not as cool, obviously.

James was responsible for a somewhat funny, but confusing moment at work yesterday. Everyone had gathered around the computer to help decide what should be written on a banner and when they decided and Peter typed it up, the computer told him that he spelled a word wrong. He went to retype it and people dictated the word to him, but it was what he put the first time and it was still spelled incorrectly. Then James reminded him that the computer employs an American spellchecker (and you would be astonished at how many words are spelled differently here). He muttered something else that I didn’t hear, but everyone else did and chuckled, looking at me nervously. He then turned around and said, “sorry, no offense,”. I have no idea what he said, but I know it was at my expense. This sounds bad, but all of the material they gave me on culture shock and differences tell me that Australians only pick on you if they like you, and they are always joking. Being that James and I have spoken a few times and it has never been uncomfortable or bad, I’m going to take his taunting in the best possible way.

Australians have some pretty different sayings. They say ‘I reckon’ a lot. They say ‘heaps’ instead of ‘tons’. They say ‘no worries’ instead of ‘no problem’. Never, though, has translation been more confusing or upsetting than tonight on my way to class. Subway tickets have a magnetic strip on them, so when you get to the train station, you put the ticket in the slot on the side and it spits it out on top. You don’t just do this when you get on the train, you do it when you get off the train as well. Usually, while the ticket is being read the digital screen just says “reading” followed by ” good til _____”.

When I put my ticket in the machine after I got off the train tonight the digital screen, with a red flare comparable to the fires of hell, read “ticket captured”. I panicked immediately. I thought, what can I do to appease you, machine? Would you like a sandwich? $50? My firstborn? WHAT?? Before my mental freakout could continue, however, the ticket was spit out. I don’t know if the machine was just trying to mess with my head or what. Maybe it was just taunting me because it has grown fond of me in these past three weeks, who knows.

For that last story, you can blame my roommate who has been standing here handing me Strawberry Schnapps for the past half an hour.

Everyone leaves tomorrow night to go on their surfing trip. I will be here, in Kirribilli, alone. My plans are:

1. Visit museums

2. Read “In a Sunburned Country”

3. Go to the beach

4. Something artistic?

5. Finish my anthropology project/miscellaneous homework

We’ll see how much of that gets doing.

Have a good weekend everyone. And Peter, I’m going to need to see you in my office.

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